ILONOIS HISTORICAL SURYK
THIMOTS HISTORICAL SlMVm
October 2-3-4, 1952
Price Fifty Cents
,,UKOVS H>StOR.CAt SURVEY
MOWEAQUA CENTENNIAL ASSOCIATION, INC.
Wayne Hemer, General Chairman W. B. Kranz, Secretary
W B. Kranz
Rev. Geo. Potter
Dr. H. H. Foster, Chairman
ATrs .Wayne Lowe, Sr., Chairman
Mrs. H. B. Ayars
l^Tr.s. Piul Gorman
Mrs W. C. Van Law, Chairman
H. B. Ayars
Mrs. Carl Wyatt
Don C. Drew, Chairman
Mrs. Leslie Moss
Mrs. Claude V. Snyder
Claude V. Snyder
Mrs. Wayne Hemer
TTarold Lamb, Chairman
Mrs. Jake Lockart
Mrs. WayTie Hays
Brothers of the Brush
P. J. Cearlock, Chairman
Mrs Jesse Long, Chairman
Mrs. Earl Cheatham
Mrs. Jake Pinkston
Mrs. K. L. Pistorius
Miss Glenore Brookshier
Miss Bonnie Potter
Mrs Roy Cutler
Mrs. Prank Sanders
Stage & Properties
Roy Portwood, Chairman
Mrs. Merville Snyder, Chairman
Mrs. Owen Hilvety
Mrs. Elmer Buese, Chairman
l^Trs. P J. Cearlock
Free Meal Committee
C-len Snyder. Chairman
Mrs. Wayne Lowe, Jr.
Mrs. Harry Snyder
M'-s. Es^'ie Stine
Celebrating the 100th anniversary of the founding
October 2, 3, 4, 1952
Michael Schneider, Fotinder
HISTORY OF MOWEAQUA
"MOWEAQUA", there is magic in the word. We hope every
citizen loves it as much as the author of this brief record of its very
Named by Miss Wells
Our little village was named by Miss Mattie Wells, an early
settler, who called it Moawequa, an Indian word, meaning in English,
muddy water, from the neighboring creek which we know as Flat
Branch. In honor of the lady who bestowed upon the plat this ro-
mantic name, she was presented a gift of two lots of its fertile soil.
All the soil of Moweaqua is susceptible of cultivation. You have but
to "tickle it with a hoe and it will laugh with a harvest."
The original name was spelled "MOAWEQUA", but in 1890 when
the name of the town was registered to be put on the map, Ihe re-
cording clerk mispelled it, writing "MOWEAQUA". Once recorded,
it had to remain. Our village has the distinction of being the only
MOWEAQUA in the world.
Margaret (Kaiitz) Schneider
Centennial — 1852-1952
The time has come when it becomes the duty of the people of
Moweaqua to perpetuate the names of their pioneers in a Centennial
This is a brief record of their early settlement of our village, of
the men and women who in their prime entered the wilderness and
claimed the virgin soil of Moweaqua as their heritage.
These hardy pioneers, their achievements, the work they accom-
plished through toil and hardships would be forgotten were it not
for a record. Space forbids only names of early settlers and mention
of the trades which their posterity continued to the present day.
Town Laid Out In 1852
The vi'lsge of Moweaqua was laid out by Michael Snyder in the
fall of 1852.
Chester Wells built the fi-'^t saw mill in 1852 and sawed ties for
the Illinois Central Railroad Company, immediately after the town
was laid oul.
Mr. Michael Snyder erected the first store building, immediately
after the town was laid out and John Middleton & Son put in the
first stock of eeneral merchandise. The building stood in the rear
of the brick store later occupied bv B. F. Ribelin and this was the
first brick store, in the town. It was built by W. G. Hayden & Co.
in the summer of 1854.
First Flouring Mill — 1850
The first flouring mill was erected in 1850 with solid oak sills,
one foot square, on which was written with black paint (apparently)
by the builder, these words, "This mill erected in 1850." The words
are still clearly visible.
The flouring mill was operated by Goodwin, Shay, and Cowle
in 1850. The engine in the mill was a marine engine out of a Missis-
sippi steam boat with a fly wheel of iron, 13 feet across. The mill
was erected in the midst of the open prairie, four years before the
railroad was built. The brick addition was built by Simon Spears
in 1856 or '57. It was later used by J. T. Coffman as a custom mill,
but, today 1952, it is run by the sons of J. T. Coffman, under the
name, "Coffman's Mill", but not retails only groceries and feed.
First Brick Residence
The first blacksmith shop was built in 1853 and carried on by
Ezekiel Prescott, who also erected the first brick residence in the
spring of 1854. When Mr. Prescott came to Moweaqua, there were
but four houses in the place two log, and two small frames. Mr. C.
Wells and Phillip Ennis occupied the log house. R. Smith and Simon
Spowler lived in the frame building.
Railroad — 1854
In the spring of 1851 there had been three surveys for Illinois
Central Railroad and Michael Snyder told the Company he would
give them every other block of 40 acres if they would locate it
ricre and he also gave ground to build a saw mill and grist mill.
He also gave the square for the public park for which the towr.
will never forget him.
Illinois Central Railroad was finished through this part of the
country in 1854 and the land whirh had not been entered or turned
over to the Railroad Co. could be bought for $2.50 per acre, a vast
fm^ire of land worth millions of dollars now, but of little value,
In the winter of 1855-56 Ambrose Gilliland was made section
foreman of Illinois Central Railroad in Moweaqua. After the Civil
War he became station agent in 1867 for Illinois Central until 1887
and invested in land at $60 per acre.
The Moweaqua station greatly increased during this time because
of the largo stock shipments.
Illinois Central Despot
First Preaching — 1835
The first preaching occurred in 1835 at the log cabin home of
Michael Snyder and the organization of Methodism was about 1840.
This society was first formed at the cabin of Michael Snyder, then
living one-half milp w Pt ^^ ti^o first plat of the town.
Preaching continued in the cabin until 1854, when it was re-
placed by a spacious farm residence of unusual charm and beauty,
on the same location.W. C. VanLaws now reside in the original beau-
tiful residence with but few changes.
During the years that regular preaching was held there, Wm.
Owens preached frequently and held a protracted meeting in the
Snyder cabin which resulted in establishing Methodism by forming
a circuit in Moweaqua vicinity.
Catholic Church — 1895
The first Catholic service in Moweaqua was held at J. W. Hardy
home, north edge of the present viHage, during the builHing of the
Illinois Central Railroad. The priest came from Assumption to say
Some of the early names of Catholic families included the Dono-
vans, Lynchs. Wha^ens, Dowds Gavins ard MiPigans. This little
mission was disbanded when the Macon church was built.
No more services were held in Moweaqua until the coal mine
w^s sunk in 1890 when Rev. Joseph Maurer, the Ma^on pastor saw
the need of many famiUes that had come here to heln ^'-ith the mine.
He built the St. Francis De Sales, the first and only Catholic church
in our village, with his savings which he had intended using for a
visit to his home in Germany.
The first Mass in the new church was celebrated April 14. 1895.
Since that time Moweaqua has been a mission attended from Macon.
Its present pastor is Fr. Thomas ("onnolly residing in Macon.
First Methodist Church — 1854
In 1854, the Methodist church was the first church organized,
with 30 charter members in a $2000 modest frame building which
served for 21 years in the location of the present Stine Funeral Home,
Miss Mattie McHenry tells us that at the age of 4 years she was
among the first persons sprinkled in this first church. Her member-
ship still continues unbroken at the age of 91 years and 7 months.
She is a patient in the Moweaqua Hospital where she has resided
for several years.
The second Methodist church, built in 1875, costing $7500, was a
fine brick structure with tower and turrett, stained windows and
located on the southwest corner across from the citv park.
The third and present church was erected in 1908 on the same
location as the second church.
First Presbyterian Church — 1872
The first Presbyterian Church was dedicated in 1872 and built
on the lot where Roger McGee home now stands, west from the park.
A new $15,000 church was erected in 1915 on the Thcmrs Hud-
son property. The first shovel full of earth was t'^.rown en Monday
morning, July 26, 1915, by Mrs. Rebecca Hudson. The corner stone
was laid by the pastor, S. A. Teague, Sept. 26, 1915, and the beautiful
and modern church was dedicated Mav 7, 1916.
The home of Mrs. Thomas Hudson was remodeled ard made a
very convenient Manse.
First Baptist Church — 1864
Washington Gregory's home was the first meeting place of the
Bant'^Hs. In 1864, the First Baptist Church was built with 8 charter
members. This building later burned and a new brick building,
costing $7500, was erected in 1890, and is the oldest "church build-
ing" in Moweaqua today.
Christian Church — 1897
In December, 1896, the Christian Church was organized, following
a protracted meeting which was held in the First Presbyterian
Church, located west across irom the city park. Prominent among the
41 charter members were the families of C. W. Rice, L. D. Kirk, A.
W. Smart, G. W. Hyland, W. J. Richart, and J. M. Workman.
In August, 1897, a big tent meeting resulted in the purchase of
a lot from Ezekial Prescott and the construction of a brick church,
on the Bible tabernacle design, the corner stone for which was laid,
Oct. 16, 1897, by A. R. Spicer. E. O. Smith, a member of the build-
ing committee gave and hauled, his farm men helping, all the sand,
assisted by the teamster, Wm. Moss, a charter member. First rervice
was held February 6, 1898.
On May 11, 1952, Musical Chimes, a gift from Miss Hattie Smith
and Mrs. Hester (Smith) Tolson, daughters of E. O. Smith, were
dedicated on Mother's Day in loving memory of their deceased par-
ents, E. O. Smith and wife Julia (Rice) Smith. These are the first
and only cliimes in Moweaqua.
Nazarene Church — 1945
The Nazarenes purchased and moved the Ridge Church United
Brethren building from Yantisville into Moweaqua in 1945.
The Grace Baptist and the General Baptist and the Pentecostal
denominations have places of worship established in recent years on
First School — 1838
The first school house erected, 1836, was a log building and
stood one-fourth mile north of the present town of Moweaqua. It
was provided with furniture fashioned by hand, the seats being made
by splitting logs, hewing one side smooth and inserting wooden pegs
for legs, there being no desks or backs to the seats. A log was taken
out of the entire length of the building. Greased paper pasted over
the opening made by the removal of a log from the side of the
building served instead of glass to light the interior. Holes were
bored in the log underneath the window, wooden pins were inserted
and a board laid on them served as a desk for the larger pupils to
write upon. A large open fireplace was the method of heat.
Old School House, located west of City Park, where Clyde Hight
home now stands.
Main StnM't, Mow j'luiiui, Illinois
First Hotel— 1853
Paul Beck was the first regular hotel keeper; he built what was
later known as the Potter House in 1853, I. H. Potter kept the hotel
after 1854, being one of the oldest settlers. Agnes Rettig remembers
Mr. Potter, fat and jolly, sitting under a shade tree by the Hotel, with
a gold ring on his thumb. When asked why he wore it, he chuckled
this reply, "To make fools ask questions". Mattie McHenry recalls
now, from her hospital room, how Mr. Potter gaily rang the dinner
bell three times a day in front of the hotel years ago.
The Potter Hotel building stood where the present Cities Service
Station was recently built and the livery barn, so lately torn down
on this location was the original barn used for the Potter Hotel
B. H. MoH( nry — Post Office and Drugs
Records claim that John M. Lowery, one of the early merchants,
was the first postmaster of Moweaqua Township.
B. H. McHenry was first druggist where the Corner Cafe now
stands, and early Republican postmaster for 25 years. He helped
grade for the Illinois Central Railroad in 1852. His daughter, Miss
Belle, conducted a successful millinery shop for 27 years. Last sur-
viving member of Mr. McHenry's family is Miss Mattie who resides
in the Mov/eaqua Hospital at the age of 91 years and 7 months, per-
haps the oldest living of the old settlers born in Moweaqua. She will
be 92 on January 20, 1953.
Five Rural Carriers in 1910. Leslie Moss, left, is the only survivor,
hiving served over 43 \;ars and still in service.
Post Office in 1«J10. Left t(. right: P^dna Loaf, John Chirk, Ada Moss.
This hiiilding; is now ocx'upied by Esther's^
Leslie H. Moss and Old Tinker
Dr. Rice, believed to have been the first physician. Dr. W. P.
Buck, Army surgeon in the Civil War, settled in Moweaqua in 1866.
Wm. H. Sparling, M.D., was 2 years old when he came to America
from Ireland. After a fine education he settled in Moweaqua in
1876 where he became the well beloved physician, bringing healing
to those suffering or soothing the last hours of the dying, a partner
of the Great Physician.
His son. Dr. James L. Sparling, has followed faithfully in his
father's practice and is now the beloved old physician of Moweaqua,
still in active practice. He started out as a horse and buggy doctor,
as all of these mighty servants of man did before him, but he has
lived to experience the modern motor car and the telephone which
brings peace to hearts with the doctor's words, "I'm on the way".
In 1924 Dr. James L. Sparling and his wife, Elsie (deceased)
established the Moweaqua Hospital which has rendered a blessed
service to our village.
First Undertaker — 1874
Early records name Leonard Melcher as first undertaker, 1874.
He was the step grandfather of Mrs. Dave Adamson.
In 1878, R. M. Stine started an undertaking business over S. M.
Adams furniture store. His son, Roy, took over his father's business
down town, but later, 1937, established in the residence section, the
Stine Funeral Home, the first in Moweaqua. After Roy's passing the
business has been carried on by his wife, Essie, and her son-in-law
Chester Hodge and his wife, Jean.
First Cemetery — 1876
In 1868, a committee was appointed by the Odd Fellows Lodge
to choose a burial ground. Their first consideration was land north-
east of town, but they abandoned the location because of poor
drainage. However, in 1876 they started West Side Cemetery, north-
west of town and the first burial there was Joseph H. Pollock on
February 6, 1876.
In later years, previous to 1890, when the drainage system was
perfected the Odd Fellows laid out a second burial ground on the
first site they had considered, known now as Odd Fellows Cemetery.
First Bank — 1874
■■^'^' In 1874 Valentine Snyder Jr., John M. Friedley and George A:
^autz established the first bank. After the retirement of Mr. Fried-
ley and Mr. Kautz, the two sons of Mr. Snyder, Karl and Ralph, later,
Cedric,w«re taken into the firm. V. Snyder Jr. passed on in 1909
and his sons continued business until January 1918, when they con-
solidated with the First National Bank.
Later, the Ayars Bros., Ralph and Mart, conducted a bank. When
Ralph retired the bank became the Ayars State Bank with Mart
president. At his passing, his son, Haldon, became president and is
now the only bank in Moweaqua. The widow of Mart, Addie (Buck)
Ayars is still residing here.
First Newspaper — 1872
,c - . The first, newspaper was issued in June 1872. A. M. Anderson,
editor, and John Marnell, publisher, and called "The Moweaqua
Register". In 1875 Anderson sold to Arnold Hughes. In the years
that followed were changes of ownership until April 1, 1893, Bryce
P. ;^mith purchased the paper, "The Call Mail" and made it a money-
niaker and an influence-maker.
"' " It is owned today, 1952, by C. V. Snyder, son of the late Eugene
Snyder, and has almost a world wide circulation since World War I.
It is worthy of note that Reed Wilson, nephew of the first editor,
Mr. Anderson, is still a resident of Moweaqua. Reed's f-ather, Fobert
B. \Vas a carpenter who constructed many buildings in o--r vi^^are,
onfe of which Was the present Lina Tolsbn home, built ori^^ina'W for
E. Prescott family. Also the McHenry house, lately remodeled by
'^''^"'" First Telephone — 18C7; Water Tcv/er — 1907
Moweaqua Telephone Co. was first established by Charles O'Dell
33 a private enterprise in 1887, until 1904 when John Moll took
charge. There were 350 phones in the village and vicinity and the
company was valued at $10,000.
In 1907 Mr.' Moll was elected Mayor and during this period the
water tower was erected and he was inst umental in securing other
In 1910 the telephone company was purchased by P. L. Drew,
who rebuilt the line and put in u^do [ground cable and bui't a new
building, in 1916. Today, 1P?2, th--e a^e 700 phon-'^. a-d Don, the
son of P. L. Drew, operates the business with his father.
Champion Amateur Hasp ijan leani of Central Illinois lor 1903
Won H Games; Lost 6 Games
First Coal Mine — 1889
October 3, 1889 coal was discovered almost on top of the ground,
540y2 feet to the top of the vein. A shaft was soon constructed and
within a few months coal was mined successfully until December,
1932, when the mine disaster took the lives of 54 miners and the
mine ceased to operate.
First Clubs — 1899
In October 1899 the "English Literature Club" was organized
for the study of English literature with 15 members.
Later in the same year, December 1, 1899, the "Matrons' Club"
was organized for reading and sociability and in 1904 it extended
its work to include the "West Side Cemetery", which was incorpo-
rated under the State Law in 1908.
Previous to 1904 this first cemetery had been under the super-
vision of the Odd Fellows Lodge.
First Library— 1922; Woman's Club— 1913
In 1922 the "Mary and Martha" class of the Methodist Church
started a small circulating library within the church for public use.
A program was given with admission fee, "a book".
In 1923, Mrs. Dudley Porter was president of the Moweaqua
Woman's Club which had been organized November 1913, and it was
around her hospitable fireside that the Moweaqua Public Library
was born through dreams of its members, whose one obsession was
In 1925, Mrs. Edna Sollars was elected president of the Moweaqua
Woman's Club and she made real the fireside dreams of the former
years. A street Carnival October 21, 1925 under the auspices of
the Woman's Club was given for the benefit of a free public library.
The original circulating library of the Methodist Church was
then donated to the public library. Late in 1926 the library was
transferred from private to civil control.
Mrs. Mary (Kautz) Gregory, wife of Wilbur, was the first li-
brarian and today, 1952, her sister-in-law, Mrs. Madge (Adamson)
Gregory, wife of Glenn, is librarian.
Hard Road — 1924
In December 1923, Main street was being paved. The State Hard
Road was started in the summer of 1924 and advanced at the late
of two miles a week. It was finished October 22, 1924, when a big
barbecue celebration in Pana fed 15.000 people with 15 beeves and
coffee was made by tractor steam boiler. The feature of the day was
an address by Gov. Len Small whose influence brought the hard
road down state.
Left to right (seated): Kit Day (Mrs. Karl Porter), Cora Snell
(Mrs. Karl Snyder), Mae Miller, Eliii^beth Armentroat, Julia Hudson,
Left to rig:ht (standing): Edna Day, Ka<hel Jarvis (Mrs, Jas. Jacobs)
Rose McKay (Mrs. Harry Day), Adelaide Buck (Mrs. M. S. Ayars),
Daisy Kirkman, I lo Goodwin (Mrs. Metz), Nellie Ponting.
INTIMATE GLIMPSES OF EARLY SETTLERS
In 1833 Michael Snyder, born in 1812, and Margaret Kautz, born
in 1811, both of Germany, were married in Ohio. In 1835 Mr. Snyder
bought 40 acres of government land adjoining the present site west
of Moweaqua. When they settled on this land in 1837 the country was
wild and tractless; deer, wolves, and wild game were numerous and
neighbors were few and far between. They lived undergoing all the
privations and hardships of early pioneer life with little to encourage
them but their strong arms and willing hearts to labor and struggle.
To such as these the present generation owes its prosperity.
Mr. Snyder had to draw all his grain to St. Louis with ox teams
where he sold it for 37V2C a bushel and his hogs brought $1.25 to
$1.50 a hundred pounds.
They worked early and late in the upbuilding of their new home.
He invested his money judiciously, buying other land near his orig-
inal purchase until he owned 2000 acres of surpassing fertility which
included the land upon which the thriving village of Moweaqua now
Attracted by the unrivalled beauty of the spot he determined
to plat the land, giving to Shelby County one of its brightest orna-
ments, one of the prettiest villages in the state. He was a public-
spirited man and believed there was a bright future for Illinois.
In 1852 he owned the land and laid out and platted the now
beautiful little village of Moweaqua.
In 1882 his foresight prompted him to give the town a site which
he did by generously donating and dedicating for public park pur-
poses, a beautiful block of ground in the center of the town plat,
400 feet square, to be used perpetually by the public as a park. We
lament, today 1952, that the beautiful elm trees which have adorned
the park for 100 years, are dying of a Dutch elm disease which is
caused by a European bark beetle which carries the disease.
Michael Snyder the honored founder of the village of Mowea-
qua, whose name is indissolubly linked with its rise and growth,
will always be remembered for his progressive public spirit and gen-
The Howell Store, which is now the ( ity Hall. Notice si^n on window,
"Men's All Wool Suits $7.50 up"
The Rural Mail Wagon used by I^eslie H. Moss in 1910.
THURSDAY— OCTOBER 2—
1:00 p .m. Official Opening. Dr. J. L. Sparling, Judge Robert J.
Sanders; Mayor Cnarles E. Howard; Village Board of Trustees.
Earl Jacobs, John Funk, Frank Simpson, Tom Bilyeu, Earl
2-3 p. m. Free Entertainment Acts.
4-7 p. m. Free Bean Meal — Ansar Shrine Clown Band
8-9 p. m. Free Entertainment Acts.
9-12 p. m. Free Square Dancing.
FRIDAY— OCTOBER 3—
10-12 a. m. Children's Activities at New Athletic Field.
Bicycle Parade. CMldren of all ages. Prices will be given for
Prizes Will Be Given In Silver
Candy-kiss scramble, pre-school age;
Marble shoot and bubble gum contest tor ages 6 to 9 .
Balloon blowing contest and marshmallow contest, ages 9 to 12.
Sack Rose, Girls 12 to 14.
Pie Eating Contest, Boys 12 to 14.
Ball Throwing Contest, Girls 14 to 18
Greased Pole Contest, Boys 14 to 18.
Greased Pig Grand Finale
DOLL SHOW at Fire House to be on display Friday. Entries to
be in Thursday night between 7 and 9 p. m.
Prizes will be given for these:
Best Home made doll; Prettiest Old Doll; Best Dressed Old Doll;
Most Un;\sual Doll; Smallest Doll; Largest Doll.
2-3 p. m. Free Entertainment Acts.
3-5 p. m. "505" Chanute Field Air B'orce Band and Drill Team.
6:30-7 p. m. Decatur V.F.W. Clown Band. Speakers Mr. Bland
and Mr. Whitney .
7-8 p. m. Contest Judging and announcement of winners in Doll
8-9 p. m. Free Entertainment Acts
0-12 p. m. Free Square Dancing
SATURDAY-- OCTOBER 4 —
10:30 a. m. THE BIG PARADE.
12-1 p. m. Old Timer'n Get-together— Free Lunch
1-2 p. m. Free Entertainment Acts
3-5 p. m. FREE PAGEANT AT NEW SCHOOL SITE
"Mirror of Moweaqua — Reflections of a Century"
7-8 p. m. Free Entertainment Acts
9 p. m. Steer and TV Event
Brj-nce of evening- Free Square Dancing and Dancing Contest.
Next Centennial — October 2052
MIRROR OF MOWEAQUA
REFLECTIONS OF A CENTURY
SYNOPSIS OF SCENES
1. God's Mirror and the virgin wilderness
2. Black Hawk
3. First Family — Jack Traughber
4. Last of the Kickapoo — Black Hawk War
5. Civilization on the Long Grove Branch
6. Serpents of Steel
7. A City is Bom
8. The First Wedding
9. Death Comes to Moweaqua
10. When Johnnie Comes Marching Home
11. School Days
12. A Day in 1890
13. A Day in 1916
14. A Day in 1952
1. Tillers of the Soil
2. The Mill
3. Git Along Little Doggie, Git Along
4. Black Gold
5. Industry in Moweaqua Today
1. The formation of the faiths in Moweaqua
REFLECTIONS OF AMERICANA
1. A Place in the Sun
2. In Memoriam
3. Moweaqua's Gift to Posterity
4 Our Community Today
Tom Candy Ponting^
The records show the names of some men who have risen above
the average of their neighbors. Perhaps no one man did more to raise
the standard of the cattle business than Tom Candy Ponting, who
was connected with it for more than half a century. Mr. Ponting
was born in England in 1824. He came to Christian County in 1847
and began buying cattle paying six to eleven dollars a head. He
drove many cattle to Chicago and New York and other towns and
always found abundance of wild pasture all the way. He came to
this vicinity in 1850.
On one of these trips young Ponting stopped at the home of
Michael Snyder and there met his young daughter, Margaret, whom
he thought the most beautiful little girl he had ever seen. Because
Margaret looked out of the window as Mr. Ponting started away
her mother threatened to whip her.
In the spring of 1851 Mr. Ponting purchased about 350 head of
cattle, buying from near Springfield to the Wabash River. After
gathering the cattle he penned them up where Moweaqua is now.
One of the pens was where the Methodist church now stands.
Mr. Ponting was bringing 150 cattle to market in the East, and
reached Attic, Ind. on Sunday, just as two church bells were ringing
and the cattle in between. Mr. Ponting was near the head and stop-
ped the oxen and "I talked to the cattle as if they were children.
They listened a moment and then moved on."
Mr. Ponting, as author, recorded in his book of 102 pages, that
the most successful investment of his life was in 1856, when he
married the pretty little girl Margaret, daughter of Michael and
Margaret (Kautz) Snyder. So active was his life that he barely
stopped dealing in cattle long enough to get married. Seven children
were born to this union. It is remembered that when Mrs. Ponting
was just a slip of a girl she dropped corn from a basket on her arm
where the business houses now stand, after the ground had been
broken by her brothers, with ox teams and rude plows. She remem-
bered Indians roaming over the prairies and that they were given
bacon, sugar and coffee by her parents.
In later years, this remarkable old gentleman, Tom Ponting, and
his devoted wife took many trips, one of which was to England. Their
closing years were spent peacefully together in Moweaqua.
Their only living child is Everett Ponting of nearby Stonington.
Two granddaughters are residing in Moweaqua, namely Mrs. Alta
(Adams) Hight, wife of Clyde Sr., and Mrs. Lois (Adams) Lowe,
wife of Wayne Sr., who are children of Jessie (Ponting) Adams, and
her husband Wheeler.
Capt. A. C. Campbell
Capt. Alfred C. Campbell, a distinguished veteran officer of two
wars and a leading farmer, came to Moweaqua in 1851 at a time
when the settlements were mostly in the timber. He attended prim-
itive pioneer schools held in log houses where slabs served for
benches and greased paper for window glass.
His grandfather, Jeremiah Campbell, was a soldier in the Revo-
lutionary War, and Capt. Alfred Campbell was prominent in both the
Mexican war of 1846 and the Civil War of 1861.
He was one of the enterprising men of Moweaqua and in 1880
was elected Representative from the 33rd Senatorial District of
He married Polly Foster in 1838 and their daughter Elzira Clark
was the mother of the late Poliy (Clark) Jolly, who resided in
the original Campbell homestead until her recent passing as a patient
in the Moweaqua Hospital.
Ezekial Prescott, a young pioneer, heard about the railroad so,
he arrived in Moweaqua in 1853 with $1.75 after walking all the way
from Springfield. He swam across rivers and forded streams. On
June 16, 1853, he mairied Mary Elizabeth Taylor, who was the first
bride in our village. They began housekeeping at once, first taking
boarders, at one time accommodating 19. Mrs. Prescott had no way
of lodging her guests except on straw ticks laid on the floor, but,
they were glad to get even such.
Ezekiel and Mary Ptescott, the first couple to be married in Moweaqua.
When the railroad was finished in 1854, Mrs. Prescott and all
the other women put on their bonnets and hurried to the railroad
track where they boarded a flat car and rode all the way to Decatur
and return. There was yet no depot.
Mr. Prescott was a contractor for the building of business blocks
and houses, one of which is the present Lina Tolson dwelling in
which Prescotts lived at the birth of Luther, their son, whom Mrs.
Agnes Rettig, a daughter of Ezekial, remembers fell off the steps at
the age of two and knocked out all his teeth and broke his nose.
In 1894 the Prescott family entertained Mrs. Mattie McCoy of
California, formerly Miss Mattie Wells of Moweaqua, the lady who
gave to our little village its name.
Mr. Prescott served as Justice of the Peace for 16 years in
Moweaqua, and resided here until his death. Two of his children
are living here now in 1952, namely, Mrs. Agnes Rettig and Mrs.
This is tlie Ezekiel Prescott home, now the residence of
Mr. and Mrs. Jesse Long.
Beverly Armstrong at the age of 20, entered a tract of Govern-
ment land in what is now Moweaqua Township in 1847 and did his
share in developing the agriculture of this section.
Previous to this, his father, John Armstrong, was one of the
original pioneers in Shelby County, having built the first log cabin
in northern part of Shelby County in 1825. He killed 3 panthers
near his cabin, one of which was the largest in this country, the
pelt measured 11 feet 4 inches in length. He made the first land
entrv in Flat Branch in 1832.
This is a picture of the McHenry home, which from all records, is the
oldest house in Moweaqua. It is now the residence of Roy Snyder, Jr.
James W. Gregory
In 1858 the James W. Gregory family moved to Moweaqua when
James was 13 years of age. During the seventies he was Mayor of
Moweaqua and has been largely instrumental in securing all the
improvements in our village, including sewerage, water works, elec-
tric lighting, cement walks, and active in school matters. Both he
and his wife Carrie (Snyder) were very active in the Baptist Church.
Later in 1908 he became Vice-President of First National Bank, hav-
ing been one of its organizers.
Washington Gregory, father of James W., was a Baptist who
helped to organize the first Baptist Church of Moweaqua and his
residence, before being torn down in 1908, was one of the oldest in
Beverly Armstrong, son of John, lived in the Moweaqua com-
munity to the ripe old age of 99 years, perhaps the longest lifetime
of any person in Moweaqua. His only son, Wm. F., lived in Flat
Branch since his birth in 1827, where he attended the first log cabin
school there. Wm. F. married Emma Garey, and they are the par-
ents of Mrs. Essie Stine, widow of Roy Stine, who established the
first funeral home in Moweaqua in 1937.
Ephraim Adamson, a highly respected farmer, settled near Mo-
weaqua in 1868. He married Miss Josephine Scott. His youthful
military career was most colorful. His grandfather, Wm. Adamson,
a native of Spain, was a soldier in the War of 1812. Ephraim served
in the Civil War as body guard to President Lincoln in Washington,
D. C. in 1864, and was there at the time of the assassination of the
Chief Magistrate of our Nation, and was at the Capitol during the
Grand Review, in which he took part. David Adamson, son of Eph-
raim, has been in the hardware business since 1899 for 53 years, the
longest of any man now living in Moweaqua. He is still in active
business at the age of 83.
Dudley Watson, Baptist preacher and farmer, freed his negro
slaves in Kentucky and came to Moweaqua in 1857, purchasing land
where he reared 12 children, one of whom, Rebecca (Watson) Mackey,
was the mother of Fannie Moss, wife of Leslie. The Watson farm is
now occupied by Ei:nest Zindcl, east of town.
Let to rijjht ( alii): Liiwson Walker, Jay 8ha.y, €. F. Gaskill.
Left to right (standing): Wm. Morris B -d WiV, n Jolvn Halso.i, Kobr^rt
Dinoan, Mr. Tallman, Charlie Keiser, Jim Shepherd.
H. F. Day
Henry Franklin Day
In May, 1857, Henry Day came to Moweaqua. He crossed the
ocean from Birmingham, England, his birthplace, when he was 14
years of age. They were 7 weeks on the water and he was sorry
when they landed— a rough voyage.
His uncle, Henry Day the First, of Boston met him and got a
position for him as clerk and bookkeeper. Imagine a bookkeeper at
14. This was in 1850.
Later he tried his wings in New York and in 1858 went to
Chicago and at the Stock Yards met Mr. Tom Candy Ponting, who
advised him to go with him to Moweaqua to locate. He did and
remained here until his death on July 16, 1905.
In an old ledger many old time citizens charged purchases —
occasionally ten to fifty cents.
Well known names — Joe Adams, John Freeman, W. J. Snyder,
Phillip Ludwig, Thos. Hudson, Ezekiel Prescott, Joe and Beverly
Armstrong, A. C. Campbell, A. Gilliland, Ab Widick, Geo. Rice and
Henry Day the First wanted Henry F. to marry a Boston girl,
Felicita somebody, but H. F. soon fell for the charms of a girl who
rode a spirited horse through the tall weeds — she was keeping house
for her brother, Charles March, who lived on the farm known as
the Grooms farm.
Louisa March finally consented to make him happy and they
were married in her home in Jacksonville, June 3, 1862. We have
her wedding dress. They went to housekeeping on the corner where
the last of their children still live. First there was a small brick
house between the big house and another house where now stands
the Snyder Garage and there five children were born. They were
two years building the present home, completed in 1872.
When Henry Day the First came to visit the young couple, he
had his opinion of a girl from the wilds of Illinois. When he stepped
in and saw her with a babe in her arms, he knew a gentlewoman at
first sight and took her in his arms, saying "My Dear Lou", and
to his last days he dearly loved Lou.
When H. F. came here the weeds were taller than a man's head
—no sidewalks. He lived at the L H. Potter Hotel and loved being
invited to theMichael Snyder's and Capt. Campbell's.
Mrs. Day spoke of tiie first mosquito netting which arrived in
the home of Mrs. C. F. Hardy. Immediataly all the women wanted
netting — and got it.
The mud was so deep that a friend from the country came in
a wagon and took the Days, the pieacher's family, Rev. Joseph
Lane, who lived next door, and others to church.
H. F. had a fine bass voice and at a time when transportation
was no easy task, he went faithfully to Decatur or Springfield to
practice with the choruses which were trained by metronome time
and which, joined by innumerable other choruses wended their
v/ay to Boston and there tock part in the great jubilee in which
10,000 voices sang to the accompaniment of 1,000 orchestral instru-
ments, while prima donnas of the day sang arias.
For 25 years he gave elaborate pig roasts to his friends. He
served as Mayor of Moweaqua in 1891 and was postmaster under
Still dwelling in the original home are his two daughters Misses
Aileen and Edna.
— Aileen Dav.
This is the Ribolin building, now
occupied by Johnson Super Market
Henry (Dutch) Niekim
Moweaqua Base Ball Team. Top row, left to right: Delos Scarlette,
Art McKee, Geo. Jackson, Ralph Snyder. Seated, left to right: Doc
Kyoer, Roy Snyder, Archie Gregory, Karl and Blaine Snyder. Front,
Earliest Pioneer Life — Prior to 1852
The first pioneer of the land that became Moweaqua Township,
was Jacob Traughber, who came March 1831 and resided there till
his death 1868 at age of 71.
In 1850 this land was little less than a wild country. Near the
town of (later) Moweaqua lived Michael Snyder, a most excellent
and noble gentleman, and the Wydick families, James and Wm.
Howse, Jonathan and Cornelius Tolly. These men saw the prairie
sod broken where the town of Moweaqua now stands.
There was much sociability among the people. There was no
feeling of caste or class. Any man who behaved himself was as good
as another. Everyone was considered honest and all paid their debts.
All were willing to help each other as was proven by all the settlers
even from Shelbyville and Taylorville who worked together and
built a cabin for John Armstrong, who made the first land entry in
Flat Branch township in April 3, 1832. He was the great grandfather
of Essie (Armstrong) Stine, who late husband, Roy, established
Moweaqua's first funeral home.
Other settlers of this period were John Casey, the Gordons, and
Records prior to 1852 in Shelby County tell of the abiding af-
fection and love manifested by children for their parents, brothers,
sisters, among the pioneer people and the good effect it produced
on the children in early Illinois as compared with conduct of chil-
dren in the same territory now, thus leading to the belief there
was a latent power ruling in the family then that does not wholly
dominate it now. Children were not spoiled "by sparing the rod"
as many pioneers' memories recalled.
In gathering of the people there was interest and affection for
each other but there were few or no attempts at trifling with true
affection of the heart, later called "flirting". No such word existed
then, states James Haines, whose reminiscenses were recorded in
1894. The people were happy and industrious in their cabin homes.
Loafing was unknown. That came with the earliest saloons for sale
of intoxicating liquors in small towns.
The games of those days did not include cards or dice or any
other gambling devices. Vice and gross immorality were almost un-
known. Social singing of play or forfeit songs were very popular
pastime, which usually closed with singing of well known hymns.
One familiar forfeit song was:
"The needles eye that doth supply
The thread that runs so truly through
How many a lass have I let pass
Because I wanted you."
Picture taken in 1890. Minnie Gasltill, Effie Winchell, Ella GaskiU,
Emnia Rettig Corzine, Jennie Smith Shay, Minnie PoUick Morris,
Rebecca Coulter, Anna McDonald VVhittliead.
Nearly all the books (known) then were the Bible and Hymn-
book, and Pilgrim's Progress. Going to meetings, as church gather-
ings were called, was popular and practiced in family style in those
Even the weather was somewhat different in those early days
as the seasons then were more uniform than now; the winters
were severe, but spring came earlier than at the present time.
The heat of summer was less oppressive and for a reason plain
to be seen. The earth being covered with such a thick coat of prairie
grass it did not reflect the heat as the ground now does when made
■ ■ m
•(' ( it res Service now stands.
One important epoch, the "deep snow", occurred the winter of
1830-31, causing much suffering to early settlers. Snow began falling
in December and continued without abatement through the winter.
In the timber it was 4 to 5 feet deep, roads and fences were blocked
so that people passed with their teams over them. For weeks the
settlers were virtually buried in their cabins and went forth only
from dire necessity for food and fuel. Much of the stock perished,
the wild game was found in immense numbers, frozen in their tracks.
Then in January, 1836, came the "sudden freeze", known as the
"Manitoba Wave", rarely occuring. Up to noon of that day it was
warmer than usual and raining. Soon after midday, a storm broke
forth when every puff of wind was like the point of an icicle. Boil-
ing water cast into the air, came down like a sheet of ice. Ponds and
streams were locked in ice suddenly, even the frogs had not time
to pull their heads below the surface for one passing a pond later
saw a bushel of frog heads.
The wives and daughters of the pioneers had to card, spin, and
weave the wool and flax raised by the men, to make cloth out of
which they made all the family garments. The mothers of this period
are faithfully described in the Bible, Proverbs 31— verses 10 thru
31, "A Virtuous Woman".
In lieu of hats the early settlers wore caps made of squirrel or
coon skins with the tails dangling at the back and he was regarded
as well dressed who boasted a fringed or buckskin shirt and trousers
with mocassins. This was in 1827, in early Shelby County.
As early as 1834, postage stamps were not in use and it cost 25c
for each letter. The first Shelby County postmaster, 1853, Joseph
Oliver, carried the letters in his hat and would hand them to those
to whom addressed on meeting them in the village.
Corn sold at 15c per bushel, wheat 25c, hogs for one cent per
pound, cows at $5.00. Market 100 miles, almost impossible trial for ox
If the main track in the roads got muddy they simply spread
out a little, as the new tough sod would make good footing for
awhile. The broad prairies furnished the hay for the stock.
Such was the sturdy pioneers who founded a grand empire in
a great wilderness. Gone is that free-hearted hospitality which made
of every settler's cabin an inn where the belated, weary traveler
found lodging without money or price.
Moweaqua's population in 1952 is 1590.
Moweaqua Centennial Historian,
Mrs. Leslie H. Moss,
October 2, 3, 4, 1952.
Picture taken in 1887. Mrs. (Uinis <Jiiskill, Mrs. Mina Gaskill,
Miss Ella Gaskill, Mrs. Minnie Pvorbrcjok Hudson, Mrs. Emima Kettig
Corzine, Mrs, Alina Adams Kirknian, Mrs. Minnie Pollick Morris.
R. Gregory & Co.
Dinner Bell Cafe
T. G. Cheatham
Macs Pool Room
Flanders Drug Store
Callison & Eskew
Roy Snyder Jr.
J. G. Stewart
W. B. Kranz
Ayars State Bank
Orin & Helen Smith
R. W. Adams
Tolliver & Davis
La Verne's Shop
Dr. J. L. Sparling
Kuntz Imp. Co.
Moweaqua Grain Co.
A. D Day
Wayne Lowe Sr.
I. D. Baker
Frank Wooters Sr.
Wayne Lowe Jr.
Dr. K. L. Pistorius
Isom Adams Jr.
A. C. Wright
R. E. Day
Farmers Grain Co.
Roy Snyder Sr.
Moweaqua Feed Co.
Thompson Lbr Co.
C. E. Ooultas
E. C. Pierce
TT. J. Austin
Radford Grain Co.
Sloan Imp. Co.
Krumseik Mon. Co.
Trulock Chev. Co.
D. D. Shumway
Wm. Van Law
J. W. Erwin
Dowell Feed Co.
R .E. Wetzel
W. H. Miller
E. J. Lynn
C. B. Parker
D. V. Reatherford
J. W. Humphrey
W R. Snyder
E. R. Harper
W. L Cox
Mrs. W. Tankersley
J. C. Hight
A M. Wilson
E. G. Beard
Mrs. Fred Williams
Mrs. Wm. Heriot
M. H. Primmer
H. H. Foster
Domestic App. Mart
Snyder Variety Stor»
Adamson Hrdw. Co.
Moweaqua Pack. Plant
Mrs. Dan DeClerck
Mrs. R. C. Linn
r C. Miller
Contributors To Free Ham and Bean Meal — Financial and Otherwise
Thompson Lumber Co., Decatur
Dallas Cobum, Decatur
Borden's Ice Cream Co., Decatur
Wilbert Vault Co., Decatur
Tolly's Market, Decatur
Crane Potato Chip Co., Decatur
A & P, Decatur
P & D Produce Co., Decatur
Tasty Bakery Co., Decatur
C. E Ward & Sons, Decatur
Kroger Co., Moweaqua
Meadow Gold Dairy Co. ,
Glen Vilmure's, Buckmaster's,
Metzler Produce Co., Decatur
'Cochran's Produce Co., Pana
Jageman .?' Bode Springfield
Johnnie's Golf Shop
C H. Ralston. M'owe'^qua Bakery
Elwin Gas & Electric Co., Inc.
Envin Feisler, MgT.
The General Committee and the Free Bean Meal Committee wishe?
to gratefully acknowledge the assistance of everyone who helped with
this big undertaking in any way whatsoever. We regret that some
names have no doubt been omitted, either because they weren't received
by the publisher or were received too late.
1 I .^'' "'^u'-.;"^'
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS-URBANA
3 0112 031884072